Influencer Marketing: Success Factors

Afza Ghaffar

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this master’s thesis is to examine the perceived success factors that brands should take into consideration when utilising influencers in an effective influencer marketing strategy. To answer the main problem formulation, three sub-questions were developed. Firstly, we investigated how influencer marketing is defined. Then, since we argue that the success of a strategy is based on whether the influencers have the ability to persuade their followers, our next sub-question examined the characteristics that can impact the persuasion of the marketing message. Lastly, we investigated the tools that can assist brands in driving an effective influencer marketing strategy. To answer the main problem statement, all of the following perspectives have been included: the influencer, the followers and the brands through influencer marketing agencies. The analysis has been based on both qualitative data, where interviews and netnography were conducted as well as quantitative data in the form of a questionnaire.
When we define influencer marketing, the thesis is based on a theoretical standpoint that incorporates the concepts of opinion leader, word-of-mouth and celebrity endorsement. Influencers can be defined as opinion leaders who can influence the consumer’s attitude or buying behaviour towards a brand or product. The fundamental aspect is that the opinion leader is regarded as an independent third-party endorser, which means that the electronic word-of-mouth that they produce is considered organic and authentic. Moreover, influencer marketing has many similarities to the celebrity endorsement strategy, as both marketing approach similarly uses well-known individuals which other people have a form of affinity towards.
Based on the source effect models, we could conclude that a number of personal attributes like having expertise for a product, being critical to brands by generating negative e-WOM or being identifiable to the target audience through frequent exposure, could potentially be contributing factors that could drive an effective influencer marketing strategy.
With the match-up hypothesis, it was clear that a natural match between the influencer and the brand is crucial because that can impact the perceived credibility of the collab-oration. Furthermore, it was identified that congruency could be realised by having a match between the influencers and the brands underlying values, image and interest but also by engaging in long-term collaboration with the influencer.
In the thesis, we also concluded that influencer could create the illusion of an interpersonal relationship with their followers by frequently exposing them to posts that could generate parasocial attachments. Here, parasocial attachments could be created by engaging in parasocial interaction where influencers e.g. ask followers questions, use personal pronouns, communicate through Instagram Stories, engaging in self-disclosure and encouraging self-disclosure. The close relationship between the influencer and the followers could to a greater extent make the influencer more likeable, which could result in the followers being more inclined to listen to their marketing message.
Lastly, based on the analysis and statements of the influencer marketing agencies, a conceptualised framework could be established. The framework presents a number of operational tools that brands can utilise to realise an effective influencer marketing strategy.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages188